Convocation 2023: Our Values Tell Our Story
“I have always believed in the power of rituals – those times when we gather together as a community in celebration. Today marks a beginning and an acknowledgement of all the possibilities before us.” – Katie Titus, Head of School
On Wednesday, September 6, the Moses Brown School community gathered on the lawn in front of Middle House to welcome another start to the academic school year in an annual practice called Convocation. This “ritual,” is a yearly tradition at Moses Brown reaching back decades and literally means a “calling together.” It is held on the first day of school, acting as a bookend to Commencement in the spring. The event offers a moment of pause, reflection, and recognition before the hustle and bustle of the new school year begins.
This year’s Convocation began with the traditional procession of the Class of 2024 from the front gates of the school on Lloyd Avenue. The students walked past their families, who proudly lined the sides of the main drive. The senior class, the new leaders of our school, then filed through the walkway, encircling the lower, middle, and upper schoolers who were observing from the grassy center, cheering them on.
The ceremony acknowledges new beginnings, even more relevant this year as Moses Brown welcomed its new head of school Katie Titus. Katie took to the podium and addressed students, faculty, and staff for the first time this year. “I love that as part of the MB ritual of Convocation, we ask our seniors to encircle us, exemplifying their place as our student leaders for the year ahead, physically and metaphorically holding our school family in their care. To the class of 2024, this moment is the first of my firsts and the first of your lasts at MB; cherish them and I know you will honor what this place means to you through your leadership and actions this year.”
Katie then introduced fourth grader Dashiell D. ‘32. Dashiell read the MB Mission Statement and asked for a moment of silence, a practice those of Moses Brown, a Quaker school, know well.
Quaker or Friends schools also follow a set of core values, or SPICES, which is an acronym for our quaker testimonies of Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality and Stewardship. The speakers for this year’s ceremony all framed their remarks around each one of these values, sharing their personal stories about their experiences and what they hope for as they embark on another year.
Eighth grade student Lila J. ‘28 addressed the school and spoke about the value of Integrity. “You are responsible for your actions and if you want something you have to push yourself. I hope you take some time to reflect on integrity this year. Do the right thing when no one is watching, and take accountability for your own actions.”
Board co-clerks Jane Ritson-Parsons P ’17 ’21 and Reza Taleghani ’90 P ’21 ’23 then took to the podium. Jane explained what the value of Peace meant to her and her family. “Our values will show in our reactions and commitment to each other in moments of conflict, respecting each other, valuing our unique perspectives and experiences, and working collectively to hold in our hearts our commitment to each other, our school, our community and our mission.”
Reza discussed what the value of Stewardship meant to him as an alum, parent, and Board co-clerk, and asked the students to consider how they will leave their mark for future generations. “The reason we all feel so passionately about Moses Brown is because of this fabric or culture that’s woven into who we are as human beings. What I would ask of you is to maintain and develop that culture, be kind to one another, and try to make the school a better place for all of you.”
Upper school co-president Keilly Q. ’24 then encouraged others to lean into Simplicity. “Simple moments, like a heartfelt conversation with a friend, the satisfaction of completing a group assignment, or the joy of walking on campus on a warm sunny day on one’s way to classes, are small moments that bring our community together and are the foundation of what makes Moses Brown such a special place.”
Next, fellow upper school co-president Myles C. ’24 emphasized the importance of Equality. “We will invest in each other’s success, show compatibility, and also commit to working hand in hand regardless of who you are and what you do. It is something that requires vigilance and dedication from each one of us.”
And finally, upper school co-president Will C. ’24 spoke on how integral Community was to Moses Brown. “Our strong sense of community is the heartbeat of this school. Students, teachers, staff, and families – we are Moses Brown. What we do here and what we accomplish everyday as a school stems from all of you.”
After hearing these stories of our values in action, Convocation closed with a few thoughtful words from Katie. “Each of us has our own story to write, our individual inner promise, and it is those collective stories, our collective inner light, that will define this year ahead. Let us commit to writing the best story possible for ourselves, for each other, and for this amazing MB community.”